COVID-19 shutdowns: Half-built homes exposed

Coronavirus

HUDSONVILLE, Mich. (WOOD) — Michigan’s stay-at-home order has forced residential construction to cease as the state tries to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The order not only halted the initiation of new home construction but also forced companies to stop working on existing projects.

That has put companies and their customers in difficult situations as deadlines are missed and the homes are left exposed to potential damage.

The governor’s order allows construction crews to take measures to protect the projects they are working on, but they are “limited to in-person tasks that are strictly necessary to preserve the current condition of the project, while the order is in effect, such as putting in place temporary security and weatherization measures,” according to the governor’s orders.

Those working in the trade say those measures work in the short term, but a home left for an extended period of time without an actual roof or siding can be damaged. 

“Future issues might come up — may not be something we see now, but it could be something we see 5, 10 years down the road from now,” said Cam Van Koevering, a project manager for Jenison-based Marcusse Construction. “Our biggest concern is getting homes ready for people to live in. People who have anxiety throughout the build about trying to get into their new home — they’re not able to know where their next place to live is.”

There is also frustration in the industry about the fact that some construction is allowed to continue.

Workers could be seen outside the Van Andel Arena, replacing the brick pedestrian area in front of the building.

“I would see our industry as just as essential as some of the street work we might see going on at the time,” Van Koevering said.

The work stoppage comes at a time where Marcusse was expecting a fruitful year, with housing inventory low and demand for new construction on the rise.

Like so many other industries impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, what will happen next is in limbo.
 
“We were looking pretty strong to have a good year,” Van Koevering said.

He remains hopeful that can still happen once the state’s stay-at-home order is lifted.

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